I hate to keep writing blogs that can be deemed political, but the school shooting issue continues to rage on in our country. With our president suggesting teachers carry weapons, I also want to weigh in on the issue. Our President believes that if you arm 20% of a school staff with firearms that it will prevent future school shootings. In his mind, he thinks that this will allow the shooter to be taken down and it will be a deterrent for future school shootings. This could not be further from the truth. Anyone who is advocating for this solution has not fully thought through this solution and does not understand all of the safety concerns and consequences that would come with it.
Let's start with the question, "Would an armed teacher be a deterrent?" Let's also take the events in Florida as a case study. The shooter in Florida had significant trauma that had gone on in his life. From that despair and anger came an affinity for guns and a goal of retribution for groups he believed bullied him, did him wrong, and overall made his life worse. He obviously was not thinking clearly in any way shape or form. For a deterrent to work, the shooter would have to consider and think about it in his preparations. Do you think this shooter was in the mindset to do so? I don't think so. This shooter knew that the school had an armed resource officer on staff. He had no idea where that resource officer would be, yet he still committed the act. That wasn't much of a deterrent was it?
Since it is not a deterrent, the next question to pose is, "Would an armed teacher be able to stop this shooter from acting?" The answer to that is a resounding no. This shooter accessed the school through a set of stairs and then pulled the fire alarm to ambush students. That means that before any teacher even realizes what is going on, he has already fired shots. Based on various accounts, most teachers and students were also unsure that is was gunfire when it first began. They thought it could be firecrackers. That hesitation gives the shooter even more time to fire off shots. In the time it would take an armed teacher to figure out what is happening and respond, people have already died. No death is acceptable.
From the standpoint of a teacher, this is also a near impossible ask. Does our president really think that having teachers get involved in a firefight on school grounds with someone carrying an AR-15 is a good idea? I know some good-hearted teachers have said they would be willing to take that step, but why should they have to be willing to train and sacrifice their lives? Teachers have families and loved ones that they want to return home to every night. They would make that sacrifice for their students because they love them just like family, but they should not have to choose between their family and their students. At this point in time, we can't get enough people in the profession as it is. Asking them to make life and death choices will only make that gap grow.
The other thing advocates of the armed teacher solution (including the President) don't consider is the sheer logistics of this. Let's again use the incident in Florida as an example, and let's start with the sheer number of teachers this would take. The shooting happened at a 3,000 student high school with multiple school buildings. How many teachers are you going to have to arm even to cover that ground? It's a whole bunch.
Even if you do cover the grounds with enough armed teachers, that does not come close to covering every student. High School students are moving through the school without teachers almost all day. They may be going to the bathroom, the office, or just transitioning between classes. If a shooter is willing to ambush students, he is trying to get them in those situations. Many mass shootings include instances where the killer figures out the best way to target (such as the fire alarm in Florida). Teachers having a gun does not come close to protect from this.
There are a host of other issues related to human nature that make this an awful idea. First, in situations of chaos, humans firing accurately is nearly impossible. Just look at the accuracy rate of police officers. If you ask a teacher to confront a shooter, there is a good likelihood that they miss. That means the killer has time to shoot them, and it also means that they could miss and kill on their own. Both of those are horrible scenarios which only make things worse.
We also see instances every day on the news of teachers who have snapped. Teaching is an impossibly hard profession, and it does happen. In a metro area, there are instances of teachers verbally and physically abusing students every couple of months. Are we going to add a firearm to that mix? I
would imagine those in favor of arming teachers would say those are the teachers who aren't going to get a firearm. How do you ensure that? Someone thought highly enough of that person that they hired them.
You also have tons of other instances of the everyday human interaction that could make a firearm a major issue. What are you going to do when you are breaking up a fight, and the student in the fight lunges for the gun? What are you going to when a parent loses it and lunges for the gun? Do you really want your elementary school child to give a teacher with a firearm on a hug? I know I don't.
It's also almost impossible to ask a teacher to shoot a student or former student. Let's take Stoneman again as an example. News reports have detailed how the shooter is a former ROTC cadet. Based on survivor accounts, it's likely the ROTC room was in the building the shooter targeted. President Trump stated he wants former military or police officers to be the ones with the responsibility of a firearm. If this were to be implemented, you know who would be one of the first individuals to get a weapon is? It's that ROTC teacher. They are former and many times active military. If that were the case in the Florida situation, you would be asking this teacher to respond lethally to a student they taught. That's an impossible ask.
Police Officers and Soldiers rarely have to respond with lethal force against someone they know or someone they were close with. An armed teacher would have to do that every single time. I know I would have tried to save that shooters life and I can imagine most teachers would. We see kids with massive issues all the time, and we still love them. I think even when heinous acts are committed, the person committing them is still a human being. Teachers with lots of experience know that those type of choices typically come down to tragedy in that person's life, and every day teachers are trying to help students get through that tragedy. Taking that students or former students life that you put that time into is an impossible task.
Realistically, the only security measurements and armament that would almost completely prevent these events is by turning schools into armed compounds with barbed wire fences and armed guards to enter campus grounds. Even then, there are no guarantees. If you need an example of why this is not even full proof, look up the Fort Hood Military Massacre.
The President is wrong on this issue. A school by school solution will never be a full proof solution because there are so many different educational situations in this country. President Trump thinks arming teachers is an offensive tactic, but when you think about it, this is about as defensive as we are going to get. We are saying these shooters are inevitable and the only thing we can do is defend against them
Arming teachers is just asinine. I have seen several educators on social media who would be willing to take that step, but I think in most cases that is just a case of them being willing to do every solution that might help protect their students. There is way too much that can go wrong with armed teachers, and in the long run, at best it limits the death. It does not prevent all deaths. No death is acceptable, and until we start talking both about access to weapons and why people make this choice, it is bound to happen again.